5 takeaways from Trump's and Biden's dueling town halls

5 takeaways from Trump's and Biden's dueling town halls

President Donald Trump and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden appeared in simultaneous town halls on NBC and ABC instead of at a debate.


WASHINGTON — Donald Trump and Joe Biden were in different cities for the dueling town halls Thursday that replaced their debate. But they may as well have been in different universes.

Replacing the presidential debate with competing conversations with voters was a fitting symbol of a politically divided and socially distanced America. Instead of speaking to, or even shouting at, each other, Trump and Biden spoke past each other on different networks, allowing Americans to choose a favored candidate to describe reality as they want to see it.

The town halls, hosted by NBC in Miami for Trump and ABC in Philadelphia for Biden, were unlikely to attract nearly the audience a debate would, history suggests, and even many Republicans were baffled by Trump's decision to withdraw from the second debate when he's down in the polls and needs every opportunity possible to try to disrupt the race's status quo.

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Going into the town hall, Biden led Trump by 9.2 percentage points in the NBC News national polling average. Most swing-state polls in recent months show Biden to be the favorite.

It wasn't clear that the town halls would change the trajectory.